October 29, 2020
Parry Sound, ON – Working towards reconciliation is everyone’s responsibility. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action document says, “. . . Reconciliation is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, an acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.”
Staff and students at Parry Sound High School (PSHS) in the Near North District School Board (NNDSB) are doing their part to create awareness. Last week, PSHS students took to the track to participate and learn at a Walk for Wenjack. In Parry Sound alone, students logged over 250 kilometres for the initiative.
Chanie Wenjack was a 12-year-old Ojibwe child who died of hunger and exposure in 1966 when he ran away from a residential school in Kenora. The school was 600 kilometres from his community. His story became more widely known through the advocacy work of late Tragically Hip Vocalist Gord Downie.
PSHS is a Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund Legacy School. According to the program’s website; “The Legacy Schools program is a free national initiative to engage, empower and connect students and educators to further reconciliation through awareness, education and action.”
NNDSB also has legacy schools in MacTier, Mattawa and North Bay. Chippewa Secondary School and West Ferris Secondary School also completed walks.
“We are proud to see our staff and students engaging in acts of reconciliation,” said Board Chair Jay Aspin. “Honouring the memory of Chanie Wenjack is an important step on our journey. We must continue to work together with our Indigenous partners to ensure we are moving forward in a positive way.”
“Events such as this help us to reflect on the past and work towards a better future,” said Director of Education Craig Myles. “I’m very happy to see our staff and students engaging in active learning about reconciliation. Continued dedication to this cause will help create a better, more equitable community, and a better future for all Canadians.”